Give the Internet a Prettier Face!

SLACKER ALERT!

I know I owe everyone the final piece of the Book Shelf test. This week is easily the busiest week my family has endured in quite some time. Lame excuse I know, but I am pairing the final Book Shelf post with the 85mm f/1.4 ZA and 200mm f/2.8 comparisons and it will really be two posts in one (and I really should split it into two posts). I also want to test the A77 before and after the latest firmware update and see if there is an improvement in IQ. My future is outlined for me, the time is yet to be clear. This being a photography blog, I’ll post a photo of a flower on a bush in my yard. Spring is coming and my daffodils will be flowering soon.

DSC00454

SLT-A99V, Minolta 200mm f/2.8 HS APO G @ f/2.8, ISO 400, 1/80s

I’ve wanted to dump my thoughts on a topic I am completely bothered about and I hope to be able to make my own small impression on the world. Right now there are two dominant forces on the internet and a handful of others which have changed what we consume on a day to day basis. Facebook and Twitter. I am not going to lie, I use them both quite frequently myself. Beyond those two, there are a slew of other Social Media outlets; LinkedIn, Google Plus, and a host of other places. But the simple fact is, the two most dominant are Facebook and Twitter. It was only five or six years ago, it was all about MySpace. Now I know a handful of folks who are thinking about bailing on Facebook and doing Twitter only. I don’t post comments to Facebook, I use Twitter and they magically synchronize. The only thing keeping me on Facebook is my extended family. They wouldn’t get updates about my kids without it.

MY BIGGEST INTERNET PET PEEVE: FRAMING THE ARGUMENT

I have a giant pet peeve when it comes to the internet, but first I feel compelled to frame the argument before I explain it.

More than half of the people in the United States have a Facebook profile and over a billion people worldwide, representing around 15% of the world’s population. Facebook is the way those people communicate outside of talking in person, talking on the phone, and e-mail. I’d venture to say of those four mediums, Facebook is probably 2nd or 3rd for a lot of people and First for more people than I can realize. I know people who live their lives logged on to Facebook. They read their feed, “Like” everything, comment on stuff, play all the games, send instant messages; rinse, wash, repeat.

This is only the beginning When you go to other web sites to search, read news, shop, or perform other internet routines, the Facebook applet shows up. “Grandma Jill liked this page” or “John Doe and 15,437 people liked this”.

With every Facebook profile, there are two immediate differentiators for every person: The Profile Photo and the Cover Photo. Using the default settings, the Facebook Profile Photo is available to the entire internet using world. Even if you choke the profile down, there are ways for the little thumbnail to make its way around the internet. I know a person who has turned nearly every privacy feature on, you can’t search for them using Google, Bing, or Yahoo, or even on Facebook. However, they associated their Facebook Profile with a Blog site, so the little icon shows up on their Blog. So much for staying hidden.

For the sake of framing my argument let’s say there is a statistically significant, overwhelming, “closer to 100 than not 100%” chance your Facebook profile photo is searchable by the entire world. And for the sake of framing my argument, let’s apply the same principals to Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus and other places where you use a photograph or thumbnail to represent yourself. I did a search of my real name in Bing on a clean browser and I got little photo from my LinkedIn, my Facebook Profile, and from Twitter in the first five search entries.

SO WHAT’S THE POINT?

If you’re risking the entire world seeing your photo, why would you post a photo that was anything less than a fair representation of yourself? Potential employers look at Facebook first. If you were up for consideration for a big job, going up against a candidate with identical credentials, what kind of first impression do you want to make? If you are hoping to get engaged to the girl of your dreams, but first have to ask her parents, what is the first thing you want them to see when they put your name into a search engine?

There are too many crappy profile photos on the internet.

There. I said it. And it really disturbs me to the point to where I want to do something about it.

I try to keep my Facebook profile around 300 “friends” at any given time. At one point I had nearly 1000, and I decided it wasn’t worth looking at all the garbage many of them were posting, nor was it worth the time to maintain the list of people I didn’t want to see updates from. Right now I have about every family member over 13 under my grandparents, including my living grandparents, a handful of people I went to elementary school, middle school or high school with, people from my college fraternity, a handful of people I work with, a handful of my customers, some of my wife’s friends, and some of my own outside of the parameters above. In December, I could proudly say I had taken around 5% of their Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn profile photos (or all three). I wish I could say it was closer to 75. 

I went through the exercise of counting the ones I had taken and came to the realization I was skipping over five times as many which were just garbage. I would post samples but the unfortunate side of all of this is I actually like most of these people.

THE PHOTOS I HATE

There are a few things in common with the ones I didn’t like. The first thing is most of them were taken using a cellular phone, an iPad or Tablet camera, or a web camera. The pose bothering me the most is usually taken by a woman, holding a cellular phone in the air like a torch, making a kissy face. I try to get in the head of someone who is making those decisions. “I need to update my profile photo… Let’s see, why don’t I hold my phone in the air like a torch, make a kissy face, and see how it turns out.” Nevermind the IQ is usually terrible, the white balance is usually off, and the noise is out of control. The pose would look terrible using medium format.

Then you have the person who has decent equipment, either a high end point and shoot, an ILC or a DSLR/SLT. They have really expensive glass on a really expensive camera body and they take photographs of themselves in front of a $25 bathroom mirror. Hopefully they decorate well, have a clean hallway, and used a little Windex on the mirror beforehand. It is bad enough when the person with the cell phone does this. Worse when they make the kissy face.

I could go on and on, but the final person I want to harp on is the person who has a perfectly normal, perfectly good profile photo. Taken six, seven, twelve, fifteen years ago!! We know you looked awesome in your wedding dress. In 1998. You’d probably look awesome now in 2013 if you’d let me take your picture. And no kissy faces allowed.

So begins my journey. I hope to make a small venture of this, one profile photo at a time. Right now I can claim 14 in my list as my own.

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